Why Can’t I Flatten My Belly?

I get these questions a lot…

“I still have a pooch and I exercise regularly”

“I don’t know what to do to get rid of my tummy”

“Can I do ab exercises while I’m pregnant?”

My answer is usually the same… You may be exercising regularly. You may be doing all the right type of exercises but is your core activating in a FUNCTIONAL way? Whether you are pregnant or postpartum – HOW you do an exercise is very important.

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Ask yourself these 3 questions…

 Am I breathing - Holding your breath (creating internal pressure) will not flatten your tummy. You must be able to breath during everyday exertion and during exercise. If you hold your breath when you exert or stabilize the body, then you are actually not allowing your diaphragm to move. “What’s a diaphragm?” Your diaphragm lives inside your ribcage and should gently moves up and down when you breath. It helps draw air into your lunges and help expel it. Be mindful of your breath because holding your breath can create intra abdominal pressure which can inhibit your ability to repair your diastasis.

Does my Pelvic Floor (PF) bounce - Your PF is a sling of muscles that connect from your pubic bone to your tail bone. Getting your PF muscles to work in conjunction with your breath is essential. Exhale and (contract) lift up. Inhale and release. When you can contract and release these muscles with breath, you create tonicity and bounce in the PF. You may know this contraction as a “kegel”. Regaining tonicity in your PF is essential after birth – vaginal or Csection…

Can I exhale, engage my PF & deepen my belly - AT THE SAME TIME? Your core/deep belly muscles are the Transverse Abdominals (TvA). They compress the abdominal wall and flatten your belly. If you want to heal a diastasis then your TvA should become your BFF. So, try to exhale while lifting (contracting) your PF muscles and notice if your TvA engages. Your belly should pull toward the spine. Practice coordinating all three of these (Diaphragm, PF and TvA) team members. All three should work together to create strength and stability within your core, allowing your extremities to move with ease.

This collaboration is FUNCTIONAL and necessary if you want to FLATTEN your Belly. If you .. Have incontinence, Hold your breath, Push your belly out when exerting orWant to flatten your belly / heal a diastasis.. Then you need to restore functional activation to your TEAM! #1 Breathe / #2 PF engagement / #3 TvA Contraction Before you exert. Before you lift. Before you sneeze, cough, or jump…. be mindful of your breath and how you engage your core before you move.

I call this my BELLY BIG 3! We practice this throughout each class. All Belly Pilates classes are geared toward creating proper spinal alignment to create this FUNCTIONAL pattern which will flatten your Mommy Belly. You may start Belly classes at any stage of your pregnancy and practice up until you deliver. You also DO NOT have to wait 6 weeks after baby for any of Belly Pilates’ movements. They are ACOG approved. They are also healing and corrective so can be done when you feel ready to move.

Learn more about how Belly Pilates can help you get your body back through our classes and Diastasis Workshops.